We decide not to anchor in front of town at the Royal Suva Yacht Club. Friends told us the water’s dirty, it’s noisy (you’re in the middle of the port area) and you have to pay for leaving the dinghy. Easy decision, we head to the ‘Bay of Islands instead, about 5km outside of the center, close to the small town of ‘Lami’. To get into this very protected place (it’s a hurricane refuge) there are some zig zags with missing markers. And of course the charts are off again. Interesting…
We can pick up a mooring (we can even choose, they are for free!), there are three more boats. One leaves the next morning and one is unoccupied. Very quiet. Just the main road’s noisy, but not so much at night. There’s a Novotel and a small wharf. Fishing-boats mostly, and the police station. Afternoons there are dozens of kids and teens frolicking around us. You wouldn’t believe you’re 5kms outside of the biggest city (pop 200.000) in the whole South Pacific!
But we hop on a bus, pay 0,30 €, and in the big city we are! Takes about 20 minutes. With the construction site they put up while we are there it takes 40 minutes, it also stops every 20m or so it seems. Would be much faster with the bikes but it’s just too much traffic. Hannes goes once to search for hardware but that’s enough!
We like Suva! Downtown is very small, and modern. Shopping malls and department stores (freezing cold), banks, old, nicely renovated buildings in between, and great food on every corner! Mainly it’s one road with all the fancy shops, walking distance maybe 10 minutes from one end to the other. The side-roads are packed with small shops, most of them Indian or Chinese owned or run. And restaurants. We have a really hard time to choose where to go for lunch. It’s a pity we can’t eat more, one serving’s enough for the two of us. We always have to keep space for ice-cream! And there’s a huge market, for us it’s too big, it’s always hard to choose when there’s so much on offer. This cucumbers or those? This papayas or those? And so on, a hard life! Friday and Saturday are market days, then it’s even bigger.
We spend a whole day sightseeing, eating, and sitting in parks!
We visit the small, interesting museum, take photos of old buildings, like the town hall from 1904, the library from 1907, and the Grand Pacific Hotel, 1914, now under renovation. We try to visit the Roman Catholic Cathedral, built 1902, but it’s closed. We also look at local handicrafts in the ‘Government Crafts Center’. It’s a not very inviting place, on the bottom of a 4 storey car-park, but they have great things and very good prices. BUT we have no space on the boat and resist to buy anything, not even those nice, colorful sulus (sarongs, wrap arounds) with BULA FIJI written on. But Cx is allowed to buy two dresses for ONE Fiji dollar each (50 cent US$) at a second hand store. I promise to throw away something else!
The first days we also spend trying to get things for the boat, not easy and not very successful. A lot of walking involved! Suva’s quite hilly, that means you’ll walk up and down a few times a day. And hot. We are very lucky with the weather. Normally it rains often (friends had rain 5 out of 6 weeks they stayed). We have 2 rainy days out of 10. Otherwise it’s hot and sunny. And it continues being sunny and hot. Just occasional thunderstorms, mostly at night. On the two rainy days there’s even flooding! Enough water to do laundry again.
After we’ve seen the sights, got the most important parts, been to every big supermarket and ate way too much, we are ready to leave. But of course the wind won’t let us. We wait. The same problem as always, too little wind and then from the wrong direction, we wait some more.
Finally we decide to take a chance and head East, behind the reef under engine, another tricky passage, small markers, not easily identifiable which side to take, but for once the charts are pretty good and we make the 10 miles without troubles. And anchor in front of another island paradise. Nukulau Island. What a change from the mangrove hole! Swimming makes fun again!